Press releases appeared a century ago, but in 2001, the first publication on the Internet advertising the Pearl Harbor movie to be shown to the public. Soon, in 2004 Facebook appeared, and such news skyrocketed. That can be traced even in Google Trends. Popularity held on for many years until Penguin 2.0 appeared in 2013, affecting how Google search results rank press releases.
Since February 2020, when the pandemic began, targeted news search has gained momentum again: according to statistics, in the United States, the number of unique monthly visitors to Yahoo News was 175 million, Google News - 150 million, Huffington Post - 110 million. Online press releases remain a popular kind of finding new information, given that Google's Panda 4.0 algorithm has affected press release sites to the point of devaluing link-building tactics. That's why, in 2021, it's worth talking about press releases as a great way to increase page views and build backlinks for businesses.
Press releases are considered an important part of a comprehensive SEO strategy. They're useful in improving the visibility of a brand or a website through news citations in the media. It all comes down to a link from the press release pointing to the company's website. Accordingly, high-quality anchor text with backlinks, as well as increased referral traffic is made of readers who share the publication online. Natural and relevant backlinks professionally embedded in press releases create positive brand exposure in reputable news sources and media.
This guide is essential information concentrate when working with a press release combining all the most important aspects of SEO, how to write it step by step, and generate measurable results.
Table of contents
What Is a Press Release?
A press release is an official short statement about an event that aims to provide targeted consumers and stakeholders with up-to-date and valuable information about your business. Here's an example of a successful press release:
A well-written press release is a useful PR tool. Any described activities, events, leaders' speeches will make your brand or idea worthy of media attention.
Press releases indirectly affect the website's SEO results. But, their quantity, quality, and relevance can be an effective way to get authoritative publications to link to you. Journalists can use them in researchers and articles as the source content, and accordingly, the website's ranking will increase.
TIP: When writing a press release, add UTM tags; that will help you know exactly from which source, channel, and company readers are coming to your site. In the changing media landscape, the journalists' focus is changing, and therefore SEO has become especially important. Let's take a closer look at producing a press release for the major news search engines.
How to Write a Press Release to Boost Your SEO?
If you want a publisher to cover your press release, it should initially create a buzz - people would link to it, blog about the news. Otherwise, you won't receive many social shares and backlinks accordingly.
In search engine marketing (SEM), the goal of a press release is to increase organic exposure, while SEO marketing is to get readers to find posts on search engines, read, and nudge them to build backlinks. To accomplish all of these tasks, you have to do a lot of work on writing press releases so people would like to link to you. How is it done?
Your primary audience is the public in the person of journalists and influencers. By creating common ground in the form of frequent sending of exciting press releases, you'll achieve long-term relationships.
Find Exciting News
A press release is worth taking on if you have some exciting news in mind. If the content is uninformative or aimed at selling, the press won’t pay attention to it. For your material is to be published in targeted publications, it must meet the following criteria:
- Interesting professionally focused on a specific industry and publication where the press release is sent.
- The content should be relevant, contain a novelty, reference statistics, and even be related to a public issue.
- Remember the principle “make hay while the sun is still shining”? So the information should be fresh and cover an event that happened today, yesterday, or will happen shortly.
- The publication must contain the expert opinion of managers, opinion leaders, newsmakers.
The more closely the press release responds to the above aspects, the more likely it’ll be published. Conversely, low-profile posts can create a negative reputation for your brand.
Do Your Keyword Research
This stage is the most strategic phase of SEO optimization of press releases. To find key phrases, start by brainstorming the query categories that match your audience's needs, compiling them to analyze further potential traffic, competition level, conversion potential, marketing strategy, etc. There are several optimal tools for finding keywords. Let's consider them!
Autocomplete is a part of Google Instant launch. It represents real-time suggestions based on search queries of other users and depends on the frequency of search terms.
Yahoo! also has an autocomplete feature called Search Assist. Unlike Google Suggest, it's slightly more advanced because it involves adding a keyword suggestion both before and after the entered keyword. You can also track the positions of the key phrases. To do this, go to Keyword research> Autocomplete tools> among the available keyword tools, select Yahoo!> enter the original keywords.
This tool sorts searches based on frequency, region, language, period. It allows you to find popular topics, predict trends, and find related queries.
After you've finished your search for key phrases, check them for relevance and rankings. Use SpySerp SEO keyword position checker across search engines that possess excellent scan accuracy for rankings, including specific URLs, countries, cities, and languages. Its feature is the ability to cluster the results so that they become readable and clear. Make a complete competitors' analysis to track the key phrases to evaluate your search engine positioning within your industry. Accordingly, an anchor text inclusion will be one of the factors determining the ranking in search engines.
Create Valuable Content!
News search engine algorithms scan the headline and the first hundred words of articles and press releases. To ensure your press release appears for particular keyword searches, use the most relevant and popular search queries in the title, subtitle, and the first paragraph describing an article. But first, answer the six classic "What" questions:
Who uses news search engines?
What key phrases are these people using to search?
Where should these terms be placed in the publication?
When to publish a press release?
Why does this news require publication outside your site?
How do you rate press release SEO results?
So how to write press releases for SEO?
TIP: an ideal press release size is 300-400 words. These are 3-4 short paragraphs and a couple of quotes.
That is an essential part of your press release because its function is to hook the reader and push them to publish your news. The headline should be clear, relevant, and encouraging to learn more.
Make sure your headline is the right size: not too long or too short. It’d currently contain between 2 and 22 words. But there are two radically opposite opinions: Jacob Nilson's and Outbrain’s ones. The supporters of the former argue that headlines should be short and contain five words or less than 40 characters (as BBC News does). In turn, Outbrain analyzed 100 thousand publications and concluded that 16-18 words or 110 characters are the best attention grabbers. But in this case, Outbrain is correct, and yes, long headlines containing keywords work best.
TIP: When using email newsletters, don't forget the subject line. 75% of publishers prefer topics with less than ten words and pay attention to that element of personality, and 38% open email only because the sender is in the public eye. To make sure your letter is opened, the subject line of your letter should be:
- Concise and understandable;
- Unique and subversive, reflecting human interest;
- Overly specific (subject lines should contain words that address previously described topics);
- Exclusive and attractive.
Attracting the reader with an exciting headline is half the battle. Now you need to amplify the experience and get the user to learn more. That's why there is a subtitle, which contains short and straightforward storytelling that resonates with the headline.
The subtitle differs from the headline in that it explains why the news is worth attention in literally two or three sentences. It may include:
- A more detailed explanation;
- An advantage;
- An action encouragement.
Usually, if a press release is unsuccessful and users cannot grasp the main idea, then after reading the first paragraph, they leave the page. Let's consider the most significant reasons for such a "drain":
- A detailed statement;
- An industry jargon usage;
- Fail to express the reason for writing a press release.
It's not difficult if you carry out your monthly SEO audit promptly.
- Think back to the 6 classic “What” questions and find a compelling reason for media coverage among the answers.
- If the information in the press release touches on company data, remember that the press representatives can check your home page, contacts, and other crucial pages.
- Therefore, prepare your site for adequate performance.
A compelling expert quote will help you build much more credibility and engagement. That is what journalists will use in their publications. But if you decide to screw everything up and finally finish this dreary business, follow these tips:
- Include quotes from any employee
- Use quotes from outdated press releases such as for 2012
That will be enough to lose people. Conversely, if you're convinced that the selected quote is relevant, this should be the actual words of your company leader.
To summarize, briefly tell your users all the following details: prices, availability, dates, etc. Typically, press releases end with three hashtags. They’re centered directly above the boilerplate and below the main text.
Providing contacts will make life easier for PR managers and journalists and make your publications more professional. It’s worth including the link to the press kit and social media accounts.
You’ve now completed most of the press release work. Now you just have to distribute it. We’ll discuss how to do this further.
Best Press Release Submission Companies
The goal of press release distribution is to provide maximum coverage in the media and expand the reach of the audience. Such a chain characterizes the importance of spreading the publication: people won’t see your news if you don’t distribute it.
The benefits of distributing press releases are evident:
- They improve SEO, and you’re more likely to get the first positions in SERP. Moreover, getting backlinks is an important ranking factor.
- Distributing press releases can attract users to your store.
- By launching exclusive lines of products or services, targeted publications significantly impact the bottom line: they increase brand interest and generate income from stocks.
You can distribute press releases to opinion leaders (press representatives, bloggers, influencers) in two ways:
- Automatically (newswire or wires)
- Manually with some PR tools
To understand which method to choose, analyze the following questions.
Why is it necessary to distribute a press release?
As stated above, press releases are a great way to grab media attention, increase brand awareness and coverage. It's worth noting that this is cost-effective compared to launching an ad campaign.
Should you utilize press release services?
If we’re talking about software for distributing publications, then it’s worth it. However, if you’re interested in wire services, it depends on the circumstances. Let's consider them in more detail below.
PR Newswire, PRWeb, and Ein Newswire are services that distribute press releases to various information sources (e.g., CNN, Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal, and others) and news search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo).
The cost of issuing a press release is a decisive factor, which depends on the service provider. Take PR Newswire, where a simple 400-word post in national media can cost $1,130, and you have to pay an additional $690 for an annual subscription. Pricing is dependent on geographic coverage, extra features, add-ons, and publication distribution.
An unambiguous advantage of such services is their speed, wide reach, simplicity, and unnecessary search for journalists' contacts. Nevertheless, it’s expensive and ineffective, as we’ve already found out.
To understand that your news is relevant, enter your topic in Google and go to the News tab. If there is a lot of fresh news, the topic has interested journalists. Open a few articles and save the authors' names - they'll come in handy later. Now it's time to find contact details, for example, by clicking on the author's bio on the publishing site.
Sometimes you have to do a little digging, starting from a simple search for an author in social media. LinkedIn is a great place to find professional contacts, but if there are none in the Contact Info section, crawl further: enter the query "journalist" and filter the results.
Select the publications of the target company, and next, enter the journalist’s name in Hunter.io and Snov.io. Let's take Snov.io as an example: after launching the extension, click “Find Emails and Save,” and the instrument will start searching for email addresses. Twitter is also an excellent tool for finding targeted professionals, especially considering that 46% are ready to receive press releases on this social network.
Each journalist receives about 200 letters a day to make your press release noticeable among others and create a topic (see “How to write a press release to boost your SEO” section). Write about your goal, namely why your news should be covered, light information about your newsletter before adding a line spacer, and offering the full text of the press release.
TIP: If you’re preparing an urgent press release, you can still send it ahead of time: at the top of your email, add “Embargoed; not to be released before DATE”.
As you can see, manual distributing of press releases will take a lot of time and is highly effective.
Prowly, Prezly, Cision, and Muck Rack are PR agencies that help you reach out to certain press members to share the news. This type of service is essentially a pumped-up version of manual processes while having several advantages: the possibility of personalized distribution, efficiency, and control of simultaneous delivery for numerous journalists. The pricing of PR tools depends on the functionality and tariff plan. For example, Prowly starts at $189 per month.
The cost to use Cision can run into the thousands of dollars. If you're not sure which tool to choose, test a free trial.
What Should Be the Next Steps For Your Press Release?
If you have a press release that you’re incredibly proud of, it is worth following. To do this, configure the personalization settings. For example, in Prowly under Mailings → Pitch → New mailing. Select the campaign, that is, the name and email of the user whose data you want to analyze.
However, if you overlook instant feedback from journalists, this doesn’t mean that they aren’t there. Don’t try to send 50 identical letters to their mail, this obviously will be considered as spam. That is at least unethical and annoying. As a result, your chances of being heard are nil. Consider distribution from a different angle: it might be worth contacting the publisher (23% of professionals welcome being contacted by phone) or viewing your follow-up email as a new step that turns your news into theirs.
Since press release distribution services provide incomplete reports, you can measure the value of a press release using the Google Analytics tool. So you can analyze how referral traffic increases conversions. To do this, you must take the following steps:
- Create goals in Google Analytics to determine visitor actions and conversions (for example, uploading a PDF file or requesting a product demonstration);
- Add UTM tags to links in press releases to determine traffic, traffic sources, and publishing media;
- Set up a specific category or directory within your media monitoring dashboard. That will provide an opportunity to analyze the channels where the press release was posted;
4. Press releases refer to higher quality traffic than other resources: it has a low bounce rate, more pages per session, and longer session durations. To examine the number of visits sent to the site, go to the Referrals report under the Acquisitions section;
5. In the Conversions → Goals → Overview tab, you’ll find out how PR placements changed the number of customers and conversions.
The time comparison function allows you to compare traffic in different periods and show how various campaigns increase it.
To track spikes in traffic from a published press release in specific geo-targeted media outlets, break your website visitors down by localization. To do this, go to the Geo tab under the Audience tab.
Please, be aware that while Google Analytics measures the number of readers who visit a website after reading a press release, it ignores data outside the company's website. That is, you won’t see the data of references on blogs, news sites, and social networks in reports. That requires social and media analytics tools.
Automatic and manual distribution types have their purpose, and, depending on the chosen industry, they’ll be as effective as possible.
SEO press releases allow you to get a lot of link weight from reputable news sites, which plays a crucial role in search engine ranking. They’re an effective way to draw attention to your brand, provided that you don't misuse the mailing list. While they are not as popular as they first appeared, even one press release can bring tremendous results.
Keep in mind that sending out press releases won’t always be effective overnight. Don't panic - it takes time to gain recognition. Improve your PR campaigns, build long-term business relationships, and thank each published post.
By adhering to the rules for creating press releases described in this guide and distributing them correctly, your efforts won't be in vain. On the contrary, they'll be crowned with success.